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Mets take another series behind Taijuan Walker

The Mets have still not lost a series this year.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Last night’s Mets game was suboptimal, to say the least. Tylor Megill gave up eight runs against one of the worst teams in baseball, and they lost in a blowout. And there were some reasons to be a little nervous that something could go wrong today. Taijuan Walker has been struggling already this year with injuries, and some key members of the offense have been slumping a little recently.

But it’s the Nationals, and they’re terrible, so there was also a really good chance they would win the game. The Nationals’ starter, Joan Adon, has serious command issues and walks way too many people, which is something the Mets could (and would) exploit.

The Mets led off the top of the first with Brandon Nimmo drawing a walk, unsurprisingly given Nimmo’s propensity for drawing walks and Adon’s propensity for giving them out. Starling Marte then hit a laser, but right at Dee Strange-Gordon at shortstop, giving the Mets their first out. Francisco Lindor decided to follow in Nimmo’s footsteps, both figuratively and literally, by drawing a walk and putting two runners on for Pete Alonso. Alonso worked a full count but ended up striking out swinging for the second out. Jeff McNeil decided to join in on the base on balls fun and he drew a walk himself, loading the bases with two outs and Mark Canha coming up to bat. Canha hit a ball just over Dee Strange-Gordon’s outstretched arm for a single, driving in two runs and giving the Mets an early lead. A wild pitch by Adon advanced Canha to second but Davis grounded out to Maikel Franco at third to end the inning.

Taijuan Walker took the mound for the first time in the game with a two run lead, facing César Hernández to lead off the inning. Hernández ended up striking out on a checked swing that he did not check enough for the first out. Juan Soto hit a ball over Taijuan Walker’s leaping body but right to Lindor, who easily threw him out with no issues. Josh Bell hit a ball to shallow left for a two-out single, but Nelson Cruz hit a ball hard right to Canha in left to end the inning and strand Bell.

Luis Guillorme led off the second inning, with a four pitch walk for Adon’s fourth walk off the day. Tomás Nido, the ninth batter in the Mets lineup, struck out for the first out of the inning. Nimmo, back up for the second time in two innings, walked again. Again. Marte came up for the second time, and for the second time hit a bullet…right to Franco at third, who stepped on third for the second out and fired the ball across the field to Bell for the third out. In the bottom of the inning Walker came back out despite looking uncomfortable during the first and heading down the tunnel with the trainer during the top of the inning. He got Yadiel Hernández to ground out to McNeil for the first out. He then got Keibert Ruiz to ground out to Guillorme for the second out. Maikel Franco, noted Mets killer, then stepped up to the plate, but he popped up into foul territory, which Alonso caught to end the inning.

Lindor came out to lead off the top of the third, and he flew out to Yadiel Hernández in left field for the first out. Alonso then followed with a ground out to Strange-Gordon for the second out. McNeil hit a line out to Soto in right for the final out of the inning. Walker was back out for the third after spending some time with a heating pad in the dugout, but he was still effective despite his obvious discomfort. He induced a ground out to Lindor from Strange-Gordon for the first inning, a fly out to Nimmo in center from Lane Thomas, and a César Hernández ground out to McNeil for a clean inning.

Canha led off in the top of the fourth with a little dribbler up the line for an infield single to put a runner on first with no outs. Davis then was hit by a pitch, unintentionally and a by-product of Adon’s lack of control, which added another runner on base with no outs. Guillorme hit a ball past Adon but right to Strange-Gordon, who turned a double play, taking the Mets from two on with no outs to a runner on third with two outs for Nido. Nido hit a ball through the hole between Strange-Gordon and Franco to drive Canha in and tack another run onto the Mets lead and drive Adon from the game. Former Met Erasmo Ramírez came in for the Nationals to face Nimmo. Nimmo hit a ball just past a diving Strange-Gordon for a single. Marte struck out on a foul tip to end the inning and strand Nido and Nimmo on base.

Walker started out the bottom of the fourth by facing Juan Soto, and Soto won the faceoff by hitting a very long double to center field. Bell then hit a ball to third which is usually a routine play, but the Nationals found a way to make it absolutely unhinged. Soto came halfway to third despite Guillorme being right there, which caught him in a rundown. He went back and forth and ended up sliding into Walker who had the ball, which took Walker to his knees. Walker saw Bell beginning to advance to second, so he threw the ball to second but it went wide. Marte was backing up second base perfectly, so he got the ball and immediately threw a bullet to Lindor, who had the ball in his glove when Bell was still a few strides from third, allowing for an easy tag and one of the wildest double plays that wasn’t technically a double play. Nelson Cruz then flew out to Canha in left, ending the inning.

Lindor was leading off for the top of the fifth, and he hit a liner to Yadiel Hernández in left field, who almost dropped the ball after overrunning it, appearing to lose sight of the ball, but he caught it for the out. Alonso then grounded out to Franco for the second out. McNeil flew out to Thomas in center, for a quick and simple inning, still up three runs and shutting out the Nationals. Walker was still pitching for the bottom of the inning, continuing to push through whatever was ailing him. Walker led off the inning with a walk to Yadiel Hernández. Ruiz flew out to Canha for the first out. Franco then hit a ground ball to Lindor, who turned a double play to end the inning.

The Nationals had Carl Edwards Jr. pitch in the sixth inning, ending Ramírez’s appearance for the day. Edwards got Canha to ground out to Franco for the first out. Davis then struck out for the second out. Guillorme hit a first pitch ground ball to César Hernández for the final out of the inning. In the bottom of the inning Walker was still pushing through the pain. Strange-Gordon hit a comebacker that Walker had to leap to snag, which he tossed to Alonso for the first out. Thomas hit a ball through to center field for a one-out single. César Hernández hit a liner to left field, which Canha sprinted over to snag for the second out. Soto hit a ball to Walker, who had to sprawl out to get it, but he snagged it and tossed it to Alonso for the final out of the inning.

Edwards was still pitching for Washington in the seventh. Nido led off with a grounder to second for the first out. Nimmo then hit a hard liner to Soto in right for the second out. Marte then hit a ground ball to Bell for the final out of the inning, the second perfect inning of the day for Edwards. Walker, astonishingly, came back out again for the seventh, despite needing to wrap his back between each inning and needed to make several tough, athletic plays over the last few innings. Bell led off with a grounder to McNeil, who made a quick throw to first and just barely beat Bell. Cruz then hit an easy fly out to Marte in right. Yadiel Hernández then hit a grounder to McNeil, who threw to Alonso to end the inning.

In the top of the eighth the Nationals brought in Kyle Finnegan. Lindor led off and hit a ground ball to Strange-Gordon for the first out. Alonso then followed suit by also grounding out to Strange-Gordon for the second out. McNeil hit a grounder to César Hernández for the final out of the inning. Seth Lugo took over the mound for the Mets in the bottom of the eighth, starting out the inning with a strikeout of Keibert Ruiz for the first out. Franco then hit a fly out to Canha for the second out. Lugo then struck out Strange-Gordon for the last out of the inning.

In the ninth, the Nationals brought out Steve Cishek to try and keep themselves in the game. That didn’t work quite as they would’ve liked, with the first batter he faced, Canha, hitting a home run to tack on another run. Davis then grounded out to Strange-Gordon for the first out. Guillorme struck out for the second out of the inning. Nido struck out looking to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Edwin Díaz came out to start the ninth. Thomas struck out for the first out of the inning. César Hernández then struck out for the second out, giving the Nationals one final out to try and mount a comeback. Soto hit a home run but it was just a solo home run, and it’s literally Juan Soto, so whatever. Bell hit a pop up into foul ground, which Guillorme had to turn on the jets to get to from the shifted position he was in, but he got there, made the catch, and closed the game out for a 4-1 Mets win.

The Mets won the game and yet another series. The Mets have, notably, not lost a series yet this year. They have a 22-11 record and are handily in the lead of the division, with a 6.5 game lead over the Braves, and they have the only winning record in the division. They head home to face the Mariners this weekend. The Mariners have hit something of a skid, but the Mets will have to face the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray during the series, as well as the former Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic, who has been struggling mightily.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Taijuan Walker, +37.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Starling Marte, -12.9% WPA
Mets pitchers: +44.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +6.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Mark Canha’s 2 RBI single in the first inning, +16.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Luis Guillorme grounded into a double play in the fourth inning, -7.6% WPA